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Feline Depression: Symptoms & Solutions

Feline Depression: Symptoms & Solutions

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NIMH suggests that 16 million Americans suffer from depression, but humans aren’t the only ones who fall victim to this.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that animal behavioralists discovered that cats can suffer from depression too.

So how would you know if your cat is depressed? Each cat is unique, so they will not demonstrate depression the exact same way.

Here are some signs and symptoms of cat depression:

  • fatigue
  • lack of appetite
  • lack of interest in play or activity
  • sleeping more
  • aggression
  • grooming less
  • hiding in isolation
  • changes in personality

Why do cats get depressed?

Cats become depressed for a variety of reasons. The idea that they are careless and do not want human companionship is a myth.

The structure of a cat’s brain is more similar to a human’s brain than a dog’s brain. This means that they process emotion and memory in a similar manner to us.

1. Neglect

Cats are not house ornaments. They require physical and emotional maintenance. They need plenty of attention!

If your cat is an only child, they will need even more human attention. People tend to think that cats are solitary creatures and don’t want/need human attention. This is far from the truth.

Feral cats that grew up in the wild and were adopted at an older age may be more independent, but cats that have been raised by humans consider their owners a fundamental part of their lives.

Neglecting your cat may cause feline depression.

RELATED: What Is Your Cat’s Secret Love Language?

2. Jealousy

Cats may become depressed when there is a new cat in the family and they are neglected for the other cat.

It’s easy to get consumed with tending to your new cat, but don’t forget about your first baby.

Cats are habitual creatures – they like routines. Bringing a new cat into your home is a big change, and they’re not fond of changes in their routine.

Now this doesn’t mean that your original cat and new cat won’t eventually grow to enjoy each other’s company – cats often do better with playmates.

But it does mean that you need to be extra sensitive around your old cat and make sure he/she is getting plenty of attention to compensate for the change.

3. Moving 

Moving is another common reason cats start feeling down. As stated before, cats do not like change.

If they could stay where they grew up forever, they would be perfectly happy. But life doesn’t always work that way!

If you have recently moved, your cat may hide or refuse to leave its carrier. This is normal and it takes time for them to adjust to their new home.

In the meantime, be gentle and understanding. Keep some blankets or clothes that were recently in your former home in their carrier or hiding spot to make them feel at ease.

RELATED: Which Emotions Do Cats Have?

RELATED: 7 Signs Your Cat is Happy

4. Death

This is the most heart-breaking cause of feline depression. Cats will grieve over a lost friend or owner for weeks or even months.

They become very attached to their companions: other cats, dogs, and people alike.

Unlike humans, cats don’t understand what has happened immediately. They have to suffer through the agonizing wait and wonder why their friends aren’t returning home.

They might smell clothes or blankets and remember their old friend , only to be reminded they’re gone.

If your cat is grieving the loss of a loved one, it is best not to leave them alone. Be present to comfort them and give them extra support.


Your vet will likely agree that anti-depressants for cats are the last resort. Instead, try some of these tips to get your fur baby feeling better.

  • Give your cat plenty of attention.
  • Make sure they are stimulated and are exercising.
  • Leave the blinds and curtains open so they can soak up the sun.
  • Bring out their favorite snacks.

The actual number of cases of feline depression is largely unknown. Most people don’t think to consider that their cat is depressed, making them less likely to go to the veterinarian and report it.

**IMPORTANT** If your cat is showing signs of depression, immediately take them to a veterinarian. Some of the signs and symptoms associated with depression are also symptoms of more serious diseases. It is best to be safe and seek professional help.

4 Signs of Cat Depression

  • They feel neglected.
  • They feel jealous of a new cat.
  • You have recently moved homes.
  • They are grieving the death of a companion.

QUESTION: Has your cat ever been depressed? How did you help your cat overcome their sadness? Leave your answer in the comments below!

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Mark Molina

Thursday 15th of September 2022

Thank you for that pice about animal depression. We had a very nice healthy cat we happened to move from a apartment to a house ally would hide from us and refused to eat or come out from is hiding spot.we didn't know about animal depression long story short one after noon I found the cat of r life gone she passed daring the night. now we know what to look for it was a leaning experience

Betty Ann E-M

Sunday 2nd of January 2022

My beloved Pixel was a "daddy's girl". My husband was in a wheelchair and he always had a lap for her. They were tightly bonded!! My husband and I listened to audiobooks together on the computer and were very fond of one particular reader.

My husband died and Pixel became very depressed to the point I thought I would lose her. In an effort to help, my adult kids moved the hospital bed out of the main bedroom and put my bed back in there. That certainly didn't help me or Pixel.

Fast forward a few weeks. I checked out a book read by this reader and put it on the computer. Pixel came and got in my lap and snuggled for the entire first disc. After that, all was right with her world. She lived another 2 years.


Sunday 13th of June 2021

I use to work third shift get home go to bed get up at 2 p.m and go to part time job. Come little nap repeat. I have 3 cats and Liam(male) would pick terrible on my female missey something terrible. Well 3 months ago have up the third shift and work second Mon-Friday and his personality has changed so much for the better. I tried to show them attention before but guess it wasn't that much. Now they have mommy home more and they love it.

Mrs. Adrian Lee Steininger

Friday 28th of May 2021

When I lost my Mom, Pudding would go into her room and just sit or lay down in there. She got better and a new kitten made her more active. When she passed I think Miracle missed her. She sensed Pudding was dying as she no longer played with Pudding, shared her bed, food, and water with her. Pudding passed just after I got home from my doctor. She took her last breath as I watched her go. What a sad time that was for me. I had her cremated and the vet gave me a beautiful wooden box carved, a sympathy card and her footprints. My parents didn't get treated as well as Pudding. Miracle is 9 years old 53 in cat's age and Charlie is 1 year old about 14. Only problem is Charlie jumps on Miracle and he's been neutered. So we have to keep them separated. But that's sad for both of them. Miracle is only 5 lbs, Charlie probably double her weight. What can we do. Miracle lives people, Charlie is afraid of people and hides in his litter box. He is very attached to my husband like a shadow. Miracle likes to sleep with me for hours.Thank you for all the good info you share!

Tricia McComb

Saturday 22nd of May 2021

My older son had to suddenly move and had to leave his cat of 1 1/2 yo. It has been 1 1/2 years since he left and the cat still hisses at me daily (multiple times a day). I am so glad that I am who I am, because I know people who would never have the patience for even 1/2 of the cuts that I have gotten. I am an animal lover and especially LOVE kitties ♡ I have had cats all of my life. LOVE them all...even the biters and scratchers. I had never met a kitty that didn't like me. I have done and will continue to give her love and try to win her trust. Can you tell me what that will take? What must I do to make her feel better? Thank you, Tricia [email protected]


Wednesday 8th of September 2021

My mom passed almost 3 years ago. She had a heart attack & taken to hospital which changed Puddy's entire life. She went to an only cat to being alone with sibling & myself driving 70 miles to feed & visit her twice a week. After a couple weeks & me being at hospital all day I had sibling bring to me as he was the only one who could touch her. I put her in spare room with litter box, toys, etc. with door closed & after a week or so opened but had a mesh type mettle screen across. That last till she wanted out. She has accepted me & depends on me. She will scratch me without warning or slap me. She was always a loner. I try to brush her & play with her daily on her terms. Since mom let her out & she never left yard it was not an option here in the city. I had a Cato built for her off back door with astroturf, screen, toys, water scratch post. In the winter I staple clear plastic over screen. It is her safe place, she can smell the fresh air & sun. It was a covered patio but now a Cato.